March Madness? It’s been a season-plus of madness for Hawaii.
But this unique season, full of drama, intrigue and adversity, is rapidly marching upon a conclusion.
To be decided is whether things end for Benjy Taylor‘s plucky group in the Big West tournament or beyond in a postseason tourney — and given UH’s RPI (around 167) and the institution’s well-chronicled financial woes, any postseason will likely have to be the NCAA Tournament by punching an automatic berth with three wins in three days at Anaheim’s Honda Center.
With the way the NIT now hands out berths to conference regular-season winners who don’t make the NCAA Tournament, that event is exceedingly difficult to crack into. And the precedent for pay-for-play tournaments may have been set last year, when UH hit 20 wins and administration was not interested in playing in the CIT or CBI.
UH (19-11, 7-7 BWC), currently in a tie for fifth with UC Riverside, has two regular-season games left to jockey for seeding position going into the eight-team Big West draw starting March 12.
Fifth might be a pretty good place to be, if UH can hold onto that spot (it has the tiebreaker over UCR thanks to UH’s home win over first-place UC Davis). Long Beach State has struggled of late and looks like it could finish at No. 4, and UH is fresh off a spanking of the 49ers.
It’s been a few years since UH has even won a first-round conference tournament game, but looking ahead a little, UC Davis would not be the worst matchup for UH in a theoretical semifinal. And from there, who knows.
The Rainbows still have some work to do just to get into that 4-5 matchup; the 3-6 game would likely pit them against UC Santa Barbara or UC Irvine, though Long Beach is a possibility there as well.
Here’s where things stand right now. Most teams have two games to play, while Cal Poly and CSUN have just one game left. Fullerton, UH’s opponent on the road in the last regular-season game, is locked into ninth and is already eliminated from tournament play.
1) UC Davis 12-2
2) UC Irvine 10-4
3) UCSB 9-5
4) Long Beach State 8-6
5T) Hawaii 7-7
5T) UC Riverside 7-7
7) Cal Poly 6-9
8) CSUN 4-11
9) Cal State Fullerton 1-13
This was pretty much expected in some corners for the better part of this season, but UH made it official on Sunday. Junior guard Brandon Jawato is calling it a UH career and will be honored during senior ceremonies alongside Garrett Nevels after the home finale vs. UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday.